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Why in 5: The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson

book cover for the prince of venice beach by blake nelson

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson ( twitter | website )
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
PublisherLittle Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 240 Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: homeless teenager, private detective, teens on the run
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Cali fled to California after running away from his foster home. He lives a quiet life, trying to stay out of trouble and not get sent back home before he turns 18. He has a lot of connections that lead cops and other detectives to hire him on the side to find missing people.

Howdy, friends! Looking for a book that’s flown a little under the radar? I’m here with a “Why in 5″ to tell you about The Prince of Venice Beach.

  1. Not a ton of books written from the male POV catch my attention. I’m not sure if that’s because there simply aren’t a lot out there, but they’re so refreshing. Like when I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I was captivated by the unique, gruff voice of the main character, Cali. He’s a runaway who fled the foster care system and relocated to Venice Beach, California. He sleeps in a treehouse, lives minimally, and is off the grid so no one can force him to return to his bad living situation. (My heart for foster care just ached that things could be so bad for a teenager that running away and living with practically nothing would be the better option. That’s not the main focus of this book, but I just needed to point that out.)
  2. Cali’s interests are attention-grabbing, but his protective nature is what really makes him likable. He enjoys playing basketball with a God-loving man named Jojo who will (and does) give someone else in greater need the shoes off his own feet. Jojo could very easily be an NBA player if his life circumstances were different. Cali takes a young runaway, Strawberry, under his wing and tries to keep tabs on her because she seems so fragile and naive. He befriends an awkwardly smart girl, Ailis, who he knows has more-than-friendship feelings for him, but he wants to make sure she’s not alone because her home situation is frightening.
  3. Cali is approached by a man to help investigate the whereabouts of someone he’s looking for. Cali is “in the know” and decides he wants to become a private investigator. He excels at trailing and locating people, but when someone he helps find disappears completely, he becomes conflicted. He’s not given specific information about why he’s finding everyone; he puts up a guard and tries to determine if he’s doing the right thing.
  4. Uncertain of himself, Cali is asked yet again to find someone, a young, rich girl named Reese, who has taken off. His internal conflict intensifies when he finds her and she explains why she’s on the run; her father is providing a completely different story. Which is true? This could mean a life of freedom for Reese or extreme circumstances if he believes her father. Wrapped up in the middle of the tangled web, Cali finds himself unsure of what to do.
  5. Cali’s story is unique because his perspective and life-outlook is so different than anything else I’ve read. The story slowly builds to become something much darker and deeper than I expected. The Prince of Venice Beach touches on a lot of great discussion topics: Can Cali fight to make something of himself? Is a good-paying job worth the risk if it means doing something you don’t believe is right? What happens when someone you care about gets wrapped up in the chaos?

Definitely pick up The Prince of Venice Beach if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path than your usual YA contemporary reads. Cali’s a character worth taking a chance on.rather be reading borrow from the library icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

July 30, 2014 - 12:32 pm

Alexa S. - I do have a soft spot for contemporaries that are about characters in unusual circumstances. Cali sounds like a great guy, even with all he’s had to deal with, and I’d definitely like to know his story! That’s probably why I liked this review so much — you made me curious about him, and his story, and what happens.

It May Sound Silly: Disney Songs for Readers

Good morning! So I was inspired to write a post like this one last summer. Can you believe it’s been that long? Funnily enough, I’m not even going with my original idea… this is the idea that stemmed from the original. (I may revisit that one at some point, especially if you enjoy this post!)

Have you ever heard a song and thought “omg that is about reading and books!!”? Okay, maybe not. It could be only me thinking way too hard. Either way, today is all about Disney songs that made me think about reading. It was such a hardship to listen to so many Disney mixes on Spotify and songs from my own collection for this, a.k.a., the best assignment I’ve ever given myself. So whether you believe in me and my mix or you are a total naysayer, here’s a glimpse into what you can expect:

  • “I’m getting closer and closer everyday / I’m almost there / People down here think I’m crazy but I don’t care.” You are almost finished with your book and don’t care what people think when you say it’s the 100th book you read this year.
  • “The world has somehow shifted. All at once everything is different now that I see you.” You have discovered the greatest book of your life.
  • “Just around the riverbend, just around the riverbend… I look once more just around the riverbend…” What is going to happen in this book?!
  • “Just take a look through my eyes / Everything changes / You’ll be amazed what you’ll find.” The importance of being a compassionate reader and welcoming new characters into your life.
  • “All I want to do, when the day is through, is linger here on the front porch with you.” See? We’d all rather be reading.

If reading feels like a great romance, your best friend, and the best adventure and comfort of your life… I think you’ll like this mix.:)

(We do not own this photo. Disney Company.)

Enjoy! And don’t forget to sing as loud as you want!

July 29, 2014 - 11:45 pm

Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books - I LOVE this post, Estelle! :D

“All I want to do, when the day is through, is linger here on the front porch with you.” See? We’d all rather be reading.
<<< THIS!!

July 29, 2014 - 10:19 pm

Jen @Fefferbooks - LOVE x 1,000,000!

July 29, 2014 - 7:36 pm

Jessica - Ahh, I love this post! Disney and reading? Two of my favorite things! :D

July 29, 2014 - 5:21 pm

Brianna - How fun!

July 29, 2014 - 3:18 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - And this was the most adorable post, ever! I’m actually a terrible song listener because I so rarely actually pay attention to the lyrics. But I love that you did this and now I want to listen to all these songs.

July 29, 2014 - 2:10 pm

Sara (of The Page Sage) - This post is adorable! I will definitely listen to that playlist later (when I’m home from work)!

July 29, 2014 - 11:41 am

Rachel - Estelle, you are my favorite hahaha. I definitely never related any of these songs to reading, but they totally work!

July 29, 2014 - 11:04 am

Alexa S. - OMG, E, I LOVE YOU FOR DOING THIS POST. That is all.

Estelle: The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor

The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 352
Target audience:  Young Adult
Keywords: girl friendships, starting high school
Format read: Hardcover borrowed from the library.

Summary:  Best friends Jane, Victoria, and Natalya are starting high school in three different schools. This is the first time they’ve ever been apart during the school year and promise each other they will remain as close as ever. Can they do it?

As a huge fan of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I had a feeling I would really like The Darlings are Forever. And I did. In fact, I always wished the earlier Sisterhood book had more meat (I absolutely love the last two) and Darlings had the back story right from the start. While it took me a little bit of time to distinguish Jane, Victoria, and Natalya from one another, I liked this honest look at friendship. We all know how hard it is to remain close with our best friends who we may not see every day so I could easily relate to the struggle to be there for one another, while at the same time, taking the time to explore their new lives.

Uber confident Jane is attending a performing arts high school where she dreams of starring in a top production and catching the eye of her director. (Literally.) Victoria’s dad is running for Senate and she is forced to think five times before she does anything so she doesn’t risk making her dad look bad. Natalya received a scholarship and is attending a prep school with a bunch of rich kids. She (at times desperately) wants to be a part of the in-crowd and this story infiltrates Victoria’s. All of the girls deal with romance, fitting in, and being themselves. So no subject we haven’t read about before. But no fear, Kantor does manage to put her own little twist on a few of these storylines.

The Darlings are Forever is the perfect book for those who enjoy reading about female friendships and New York City. It may not be exactly on the light side but you won’t be crying your eyes out or throwing the book against the wall in fits of frustration either. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Some swoon, some drama, and some good old-finished gal pals.

rather be reading borrow from the library icon

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I’ve also reviewed: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

July 28, 2014 - 10:08 pm

Alexa S. - Friendship story in New York City? I’M SOLD. I seriously love a good friendship story, especially one that highlights each person in the group of friends well.

July 28, 2014 - 4:01 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - The Darlings Are Forever seems really interesting. I never did read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I’ve been meaning to for what feels like forever.

I always enjoy books about female friendships. Glad you liked this.

Shelve It: New Books / New Friends / Giveaway

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

I wonder if I’ll ever NOT be amazed by how fast time is flying. It’s practically been a month since I’ve done one of these, and when I was getting my books together — I was pleasantly surprised how few i’ve bought in the last few weeks. Go me? Don’t get me wrong; so many great books are coming out but i’m so behind on reading what I own i’ve been making a conscious effort to do that. So this is what’s been happening…

What I bought:

Rather Be Reading Shelve It

Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Fun goodies in the mail:

Rather Be Reading Blog Shelve iT

From Harlequin: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey
From Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
From Melissa @ Rolling with the Magic: Beer and Food by Mark Dredge

THANK YOU ALL!

Speaking of BEER, this week debuted my contribution to PUB DATE — a new feature I’ll be working on with a few fantastic bloggers and beer lovers. My sister made the banner and i am feeling way proud of her! So if you are curious about beer or just want another way to find a book recommendation, be sure to stop in!

In other blog news, Magan and I are so excited to share in the launch of THE PAGE GIRLS — a new online magazine dedicated to books, friendship, and cocktails. Seriously, could this new venture be any more perfect for us? I think not. So to spread the love, the gals of The Page Girls have donated some lovely blog-themed coasters and an eBook of a winner’s choice. If you’re a fan of finding super fun mail in your box, I recommend you enter this giveaway!

Page Girl Coasters 2

Here’s a little bit more info:

About The Page Girls | The Page Girls (www.thepagegirls.com) is a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more. Some sample issues include The Craziest Thing I Did For Love and LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister).

Sign up for The Page Girls’ weekly newsletter to get notified about new issues, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Ebook giveaway (Winner chooses 1 title):

An Imaginary House by the Sea by Cecily Gates (Contemporary Romance)
HDU by India Lee (New Adult)
Normal is the Watchword by Jasmine Tru (YA Thriller)
Here for the Cake by Emily Poule (Rom-Com)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

In case you missed it:

  • I want you to consider buying AFTER I DO (contemporary fiction) + BLAZED (dark contemporary YA).
  • Magan wants you to borrow EXILE (a YA book for music fans).

How’s your summer been? Let us know + don’t forget to enter The Page Girls giveaway!

We hope you have a great week full of sunshine, books, and maybe a donut? Yum!

July 28, 2014 - 8:44 pm

Alexa S. - I think you got some pretty excellent things book-wise, if you ask me! I still want a copy of Jojo Moyes’ books :) Happy reading!

July 27, 2014 - 4:54 pm

tabithasbookblog - Breathe, Annie, Breathe was so good! It ended up being one of my favorites in the Hundred Oaks series, so I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are. (or have you already read it)?

And then Blazed looks really good! I’m going to look into it.

July 27, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Brianna - I’m a new reader to your blog. I can’t wait to check out your reviews!

Pub Date: A Summer of Reds

Pub Date Header

Hello, friends! We have made it to Friday + it’s a special occasion because it’s my first contribution to PUB DATE — the brain child of Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide — where I will be sharing book + beer pairings along with the lovely Andi of Andi’s ABCs and Maggie of Just a Couple More Pages. And thanks to the talents of my sister (she painted this actually) we have a fancy dancy new header to debut today as well. Hooray!

We’re working with a summer theme this first go-round and last week, Brittany paired a pale ale with a really fun contemporary YA romance. (I’m not revealing any of the details because I want you to go visit B if you haven’t already!)

Before I share with my picks with you, a little bit about me and beer:

  • I was not a beer fan until 2009 or so when I discovered beer could actually taste good.
  • I love sour ales, anything with a hint of fruit, and a good stout. (Coffee or chocolate, count me in!)
  • This summer my husband and I once again bought a beer passport — it’s this event a few of the local bars in NYC put together where you buy the pass and get a free beer at 40-something bars, and you check them off as you go along. It’s been a great way for us to find new places to drink and have dinner, and also try a bunch of breweries.
  • I try to drink local whenever I can. So when I’m on a trip, the first thing I’m looking for is a beer I never tried before.
  • I get very judgmental when I see someone drinking a Miller Lite or Coors Light at a craft beer bar. I can’t help it. In New York City, that crappy beer could cost $8. At least for the same amount of money you could be supporting a local brewery and trying something that has a taste.
  • My advice for non-beer lovers: I honestly believe there is a beer for everyone. My first beer was a combination of a beer and champagne. I loved it and it made me braver about trying OTHER beers. You just have to be patient. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample. (Beer flights are the best way to get a feel for what you like.)

Bravery is actually a great way to lead into my summer pick:

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland | James Page Brewing Ould Sod Irish Red IPA

Nantucket Red and James Page Ould Sod

Brave because I think Cricket is one of the strongest female contemporary leading ladies we have out there. In Nantucket Blue, she fought with her friendship when it totally changed, and in Nantucket Red, she’s fighting for her independence and also the chance to find out who she really is. (Confession: Nantucket Red actually spans more time than just the summer but the bigger chunk of the book is dedicated to time out in Nantucket.)

Like Cricket, JP’s Ould Sod beer is familiar with the perfect amount of spice. I’m not normally a fan of IPAs (india pale ales = too hoppy) but my husband and I spotted this beer because of it’s cool art and because we had never heard of an IRISH RED IPA before. (According to the website, it’s a brand new thing the brewery tried with hints of caramel and a throwback to Irish Reds from Ireland back in the day.)

It’s light enough to enjoy on a sweltering summer day (I don’t suggest having many stouts or porters in the heat) and the IPA adds the perfect bit of kick. Plus it comes in adorable 12 oz cans. Cans + summer time drinking just go together, don’t you think?

Two things:

  • Ould sod is an Irish expression for “home” + I think that has a lot to do with what Cricket is searching for in both Nantucket books.
  • JP’s Brewery calls their beers “adventurous brews with a twist.” Such a fitting modus operandi for a creative brewery (we tried the Chai Tea Porter + it was fantastic too) and a beer I’m working to desperately pair with one of my favorite young adult lit series.

Want to see if this beer is available near you? Check out their product locator!

Thanks for joining me for this week’s PUB DATE! I’d love to hear what you’ve been sipping lately.
Definitely let me know below + don’t forget to sit back and relax this weekend.

Cheers!

July 27, 2014 - 9:01 am

Shelve It: New Books / New Books / Giveaway - […] of BEER, this week debuted my contribution to PUB DATE — a new feature I’ll be working on with a few fantastic bloggers and beer lovers. My […]

July 25, 2014 - 7:16 pm

Christina @ My Life in Books - There are no James Page Brewing products within 100 miles of MA *sniffs back tears*

July 25, 2014 - 12:47 pm

Alexa S. - I think you’ll be happy to hear that I am considering this Pub Date feature my “education” when it comes to sampling different beers (because I do know what you think of my occasional beer choices, lol)! I really prefer beer over other drinks these days, interestingly enough. I love this feature loads, and am looking forward to indulging in Nantucket Red this weekend (and perhaps grabbing a beer too)!

July 25, 2014 - 11:48 am

Andi - The pressure is on! You and Brittany did such great posts I’m worried about my turn.

I love the beer passport thing. I am the only one of my friends that likes craft beers and trying different one. They are all (GASP) Bud Light drinkers and rarely branch out to other beers. I’ve tried changing it but no go.

Great pairing. And I love the header!

July 25, 2014 - 10:31 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Have I mentioned how much I love this feature? Because I do! Enjoyed your tidbit at the beginning about how you discovered beer, the beer passport, and your irritation with Bud Light drinkers (I feel this way too!!!). A friend of mine has mentioned a local group of ladies who tour Houston pubs & try craft beers. I’m thinking about attending some time. Sounds like fun & a great opportunity to meet more people.

July 25, 2014 - 9:29 am

Cassie - to be honest I’m not a beer lover but I would definitely give this one to go because you paired it with Nantucket Red and I’m always willing to try new things! Again. Love this feature.

July 25, 2014 - 9:06 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - LOVE the fancy dancy header! <3
I just love your pairing. Everything about it is so perfect (not like I had any doubts) and I thought about the Nantucket books when choosing my post because they are just so perfect for summer.
I love your points on you and beer too! It's true. I drank crappy beer in college but I didn't really ENJOY it until maybe 3-4 years ago when I started trying different kinds (Shane was a big part of that too) and there really can be a beer for everyone!